April 15th, what does this day mean to you? For most U.S. citizens, it isn’t a day to look forward to. That’s because it’s the day our taxes are due. While it is part of our civic responsibility, I would venture to say that few people really enjoy the tax season; even CPAs are crazed during this time of year. And it isn’t only the pain of cutting a check if you are one of the unfortunate ones who owes money; it is also the cumbersome process of getting your taxes done.
But I’ve noticed something a little different this tax season, ads about tax services are heavily focused on expertise vs. ease. TurboTax, TaxAct, H&R Block, you name it, all seem to be promoting the credentials of their tax experts and the quality experience you will have when you engage with them. This could be due to the added levels of complexity related to changes in rules and regulations from year to year, or it could be that people are having issues with accuracy. Regardless, the “experts” promise a better experience.
I am the first to admit that finance is not my specialty and I would prefer to pay for the service to ensure my taxes are done right. Expertise is so important to me I choose to drive 20 traffic-filled miles to my “local” tax expert to have him sort through our paperwork and tell me to get ready to cut a check.
However, when I think about what the future could look like for this service-oriented industry, I think video could play a crucial role. If you gave me the choice of getting in a car to drive to see my CPA or staying in the comfort of my own home and having the same experience over a video call, I would choose the latter. And if one day I decided to handle my own tax preparation using one of the leading tax preparation websites, I would still like to know I could use a lifeline to call an expert. And if that expert could talk to me “in person” via video, my experience would be even better.
I believe both of these options will soon be possible and will become a more common way for tax preparation. In the future, the channel won’t matter as much as the expertise, and no matter which path you go, video and collaboration technologies will play a key role.
As video becomes more pervasive, customers are going to expect accounting firms large and small to offer these capabilities. And once technologies like WebRTC become more mainstream, customers will benefit from the best of both worlds – the simplicity of an online portal along with the safety net of a tax expert just a quick video call away.
I am not suggesting that taxes will ever be easy, but at least we can look forward to the preparation being a more positive experience!
Would you use video during your tax preparation? Let me know with a “yes” or “no” below.